UPDATE 1-Citgo, Aruba working to restart refinery under lease -sources
(Adds comment by Aruba government spokesman, background on Aruba facility)
By Marianna Parraga and Erwin Seba
HOUSTON Feb 13 (Reuters) - Venezuelan PDVSA's unit in the United States, Citgo Petroleum, is working to restart some processing units at the Aruba refinery under a 25-year lease contract with the government of the Caribbean island, sources at the facility and firms involved told Reuters on Saturday.
The Aruba refinery's former operator, Valero Energy Corp , has not been involved in the negotiations, but the island has guaranteed the U.S. company that it can walk away from the refinery with zero environmental liability and without obligation to dismantle it.
A source from the refinery, with capacity to run 235,000 barrels per day of crude, said a technical team has been working since September on the facility's new configuration, including equipment replacement. Other sources added the process of hiring staff and contractors is about to begin.
A spokesman for Aruba's government told Reuters a group of representatives is currently in Houston discussing terms of a possible deal.
Valero told Reuters its policy is not to comment on business negotiations. PDVSA and Citgo were not immediately available.
Even though PDVSA's financial condition is weak amid low crude prices, its subsidiary Citgo enjoyed some relief in 2015 due to higher refining margins, which would allow it to direct a portion of its profit to Aruba.
Last month, the catalysts used at Aruba's hydrodesulfurization unit (HDS) were removed and new ones are planned for purchase, one of the sources said. Continuación...